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2/21: Jose Wins Arb; Saunders Signs; JR Option Year; Walk Joins Booth; Groat Joins College HoF; First CBA; HBD Tyler, Joel, Ted & Jouett

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  • 1867 – RHP Jouett Meekin was born in New Albany, Indiana. Meekin was in his 10th year of big league ball when he joined the Pirates in 1900 at age 33; two starts and 21 runs later (half were unearned, but geez…) he had tossed his last in MLB. It was an inglorious end to a stellar career; between 1894-98, he had won 111 games, even while pitching through a torn muscle in 1895. He left pro ball in 1902 and became a fireman. 
  • 1936 – OF Ted Savage was born in Venice, Illinois. Ted played for eight teams in a nine-year major league career, including a stop in Pittsburgh in 1963, batting just .195. He only ended up with a .233 lifetime BA, but made the most of his post-baseball days. Savage earned a Ph.D. in urban studies from St. Louis University, working there before catching on with the Cards as a community relations admin before retiring. He kept his hand in the game afterward as a promoter and fundraiser for baseballs’ RBI program. 
Ted Savage – 1964 Topps
  • 1961 – C Joel Skinner was born in La Jolla, California. Joel was Pirates OF Bob Skinner’s son, and the Bucs drafted him in the later rounds of the 1979 draft. Though he only played two years in the Bucco system, he was part of a pair of landmarks. The Pirates lost him in the short-lived free agent compensation draft to the Yankees as the first player ever claimed under that system (oddly enough, it was because the Phillies had signed NY’s Ed Farmer, but the compensation pool was formed by the entire league, not just the team involved.) He also was an interim manager for Cleveland, so he and his dad, a former Phil’s skipper, formed just the second father-son manager team in MLB history (George and Dick Sisler were the first). 
  • 1968 – Marvin Miller negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in history with the team owners. The CBA ran from January 1st, 1968 to December 31st‚ 1969. The minimum MLB player’s salary was raised to $10‚000, meal money during the season went up to $15 a day‚ and players got $40 a week for training-camp expenses. 
  • 1988 - LHP Tyler Lyons was born in Lubbock, Texas. The five-year vet was effective as a bridge man in 2015-17 for the Cards, but had a dismal 2018 and was released. Lyons signed a minor league deal with the Pirates in 2019 and opened the season with the AAA Indianapolis Indians. He was called up on May 4th. In three games for the Bucs, he surrendered five runs on six hits and three walks with five punchouts in four innings. Pittsburgh moved on, DFA’ing him on May 8th, reassigning him to Indy and finally releasing him in mid-August. He’s been with the Yankees since, mainly as a depth piece. 
  • 1992 – In the final day of arbitration hearings, 2B Jose Lind came up roses when he was awarded $2M; the Pirates offer had been just $1M. Chico had hit a middling .265 in 1991 and didn’t exactly live up to his new contract, followed his arb win with a .235 BA/55 OPS+ season. The Bucs shipped him to KC in the off season. 
  • 1994 – Former Bucco righty Bob Walk joined Lanny Frattare, Greg Brown and Steve Blass on the Pirates TV broadcast team after his final campaign as a member of the Pittsburgh pitching staff. Coach Rich Donnelly threw some good natured jabs at Walkie (“He’s been second guessing Jim’s decisions for eight years; now he can get paid for it” and “Maybe now he’ll get a complete game”) but Walk was a popular choice both among the team and fan base and has made it through the KBL, Fox Sports, FSN Pittsburgh, Root Sports and AT&T SportsNet eras. 
John Russell – 2009 Topps Heritage
  • 2009 – The Pirates picked up manager John Russell’s contract option for the season. The sophomore skipper went 67-95 after taking Jim Tracy’s spot. “JR met or exceeded expectations in his first year as the Pirates’ manager,” GM Neal Huntington explained in a statement. JR skippered through the 2010 campaign, suffering through a dismal-105 loss year, and was replaced by Clint Hurdle. 
  • 2011 – Seven new members of the College Baseball Hall of Fame were announced, including Duke’s Dick Groat, who became the first player ever inducted into both the college basketball (he was a two-time All-America who considered hoops to be his best sport) and baseball halls. Groat won a World Series and MVP while with the Pirates, and in his 26 game NBA career with the Fort Wayne Pistons, he averaged 11.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists before joining the Bucs full-time. 
  • 2018 - The Pirates signed OF’er Michael Saunders, a 2016 All-Star for the Blue Jays who went through a tough 2017 campaign (.202 between Toronto & Philadelphia), to a minor league deal with an invite to camp to compete for a vacancy in left. It ended up one of the quickest in-and-outs in Bucco history as the following day the Pirates traded with Tampa Bay to bring in All-Star LF’er Corey Dickerson, making him the default starter and triggering a request by Saunders to be released to seek a job in greener pastures. It was granted and he inked an agreement with the Kansas City Royals on the 23rd. He never played MLB ball again, retiring in 2019 to take a coaching job in the Braves organization.


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